Thursday, June 12, 2014

Origins 2014

So, Origins is this week. Once again I am excited but I hope that GAMA has not painted themselves into a corner leading to the end of the convention or moving it to another city.

One issue that comes up every year is how long it takes to get everything related to the convention up and running. Events registration is always started within 6 weeks of the convention and details for the GMs for the events don't get released until the last minute. Contrast this with GenCon where the events are published months out and registration information (and even badges) are mailed out well in advance of the show. I will show up on Thursday morning wait in line and hope that the badge and events I signed up and paid for just over a week ago are waiting for me.

I stopped going to the convention several years ago. I got tired of the crush of time and never being able to sign up for the events I wanted as well as the shrinking number of vendors that seemed to show up. When a good chunk of the vendor area was taken up by the Mystery Van promoting the new Scooby Doo collectible card game I thought it was time for a break. What brought me back to Origins was something called the Fair Day Pass. A five dollar a day admission that gave you access to the vendor area and open areas of the convention with a family version that was 15 dollars.

The Fair Day Pass was available for several years but last year it was only usable on Saturday. This year GAMA has not eliminated the pass but raised the price to 20 dollars and is offering a Family Day Pass for Sunday at the cost of 15 dollars. Sunday is usually the slowest day of the convention so I am sure this is a move to bolster attendance on that day but I believe that eliminating the single version of the pass is a mistake. Now the absolute cheapest single day admission is 20 dollars. I always thought the five dollar pass was great because it brought people into the vendor hall to spend money who would not have come to the convention otherwise. Columbus is full of poor college students who would love to come spend a day at the convention but won't do if the price is high. And did I mention this year the Sunday of the convention falls on Father's Day? 

The last item to my rant goes out to the game masters who put their time and effort into making Origins great. I will not say anything that questions their commitment to this event. My problem is that the event times seem to be getting longer every year and some events seem only half ready when you get there. If you are a game master with a 4 hour slot for a RPG or miniatures please have characters and forces ready at the appointed start time.As an example, I signed up for a learn Aces and Eights rpg session a few years ago  and what we did was roll up characters for three and a half hours and run part of a bar room fight encounter. I have had other friends show up for RPG events where they are asked to roll up characters as quickly as possible but the GM does not have any character sheets and one copy of the rule book. I don't like to quit events but these are the kinds of things that drive me away from game sessions. Board games can be bad about this as well. The gamers are all seated around an empty table at the appointed time and the organizer shows up a few minutes late with the game under his arm.

Why do you go then Cap'n Grumpy? I go because there are bargains. I go because I like seeing the new innovations coming out in the industry. I go because I have formed friendships over the years with vendors and game designers. I go because there are always some games and accessories that are not available anywhere else. I go because I am never sure that GAMA will be able to pull it all together again next year.

Origins has had a great run in Columbus but there have been rumblings for years that maybe they should explore moving back to Baltimore or Philadelphia. That would make me sad but I would probably just spend my money on going to GenCon. I don't like that convention as well but three hours is not that long of a drive.

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